Communications Intelligence and the Sinking of the U-860, April-June 1944

By David Syrett, published February 1999


In the latter part of the Battle of the Atlantic (1944-5), when wolf-pack tactics had been defeated and U-boat numbers were dwindling, U-boats increasingly traveled individually and struck less frequently, thus becoming harder to find.   In response the Allies developed different search tactics, emphasizing the use of communications intelligence, the science of locating an object or position by analyzing the contents, as well as electronic characteristics  (called ‘traffic analysis’) of the radio signal itself.  Since by 1944 the British had long since broken (without detection) the German encryption code (‘Ultra’), this article focuses on the increased used of radio-direction finding (D/F) and the then-recently developed ‘traffic analysis’ tactics, such as TINA and radio fingerprinting.  The author uses the discovery, tracking, location, and destruction of the U-860 as his example.

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Filed under: Atlantic | WW2
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Navies | Submarines | Weapons

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